Bruce Willis and Reece Thompson in the film by Brett Simon

‘Assassination of a High School President’ on Amazon Prime Video

The name’s Bobby Funke. I write for the paper.” At least that’s how this picked-on sophomore imagines himself in Assassination of a High School President (2008): the loner who walks a straight line through the crooked halls of his corrupt Catholic high school. Funke (who is inevitably called “Funky” by his schoolmates) narrates his tale […]

Alberto Sordi stars in Alberto Lattuada's brilliant satire from Italy

The paternal hand of the ‘Mafioso’ on FilmStruck

Mafioso (Italy, 1962), Alberto Lattuada’s brilliant satire of Sicily’s “paternal” mafia, became the cinematic rediscovery of 2006 when it was revived and shown at the New York Film Festival. Alberto Sordi plays the Sicilian son made good, a business professional in Milan who, bubbling over with sentimental zeal, brings his Milanese wife and two adorable […]

Donald Pleasence, Françoise Dorléac. Lionel Stander, and Jack MacGowran star in the 1966 film by Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski’s ‘Cul-De-Sac’ on VOD and Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

Roman Polanski once cited Cul-De-Sac (1966), a sly little character piece set in an isolated medieval castle on the barren British coast, as his personal favorite of his films, and the closest he came to creating “pure cinema.” It’s Polanski’s third feature and his second English language film, and he wrote the original script with […]

Matt Damon is Mark Whitacre in the movie by Steven Soderbergh

Matt Damon is ‘The Informant!’ on Netflix

Biochemical engineer and corporate whistleblower Mark Whitacre might have been a national hero for his help in exposing international price fixing. Too bad he was also a compulsive liar and an embezzler caught up in delusions of grandeur and secret-agent fantasies. Though based on a true story, The Informant! (2009) is not The Insider but […]

Donald Pleasance and Gary Bond in the 1971 Australian drama by Ted Kotcheff

Australian cult film ‘Wake in Fright’ on Amazon Prime Video

Wake in Fright (1971), one of the seminal works of the New Australian cinema of the seventies, is a brutal, blackly funny thriller of an urban schoolteacher (Gary Bond) posted to the Australian Outback, which is a sun-blasted nightmare as far as he’s concerned. He can’t leave fast enough when his Christmas vacation arrives, but […]

Lucy Davis, Kate Ashfield, Dylan Moran, Simon Pegg, Penelope Wilton, and Nick Frost in the film by Edgar Wright

‘Shaun of the Dead’ – the funniest zombie comedy ever on Hulu

The apocalyptic hysteria of the zombie film has always been pitched on the edge of comedy: a horrible black joke played on humanity by a god with a sick sense of humor. Director/co-writer Edgar Wright and co-writer/star Simon Pegg’s self-proclaimed “rom-zom-com” (romantic zombie comedy) Shaun of the Dead (2004) simply nudges it over the edge. […]

Peter Sellers stars in Stanley Kubrick's political satire of mutually assured destruction

‘Dr. Strangelove’ – the screwball satire of mutually assured destruction on Hulu

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Stanley Kubrick’s screwball satire of cold war posturing and mutually assured destruction, is the funniest film ever made about nuclear holocaust. But it didn’t begin as a comedy. The source novel, Peter George’s “Red Alert,” was a grave contemplation of the […]

Johannes Kuhnke and Lisa Loven Kongsli star in the Swedish drama from Ruben Östlund

‘Force Majeure’ from Sweden on Hulu

One of the surprises in the 2015 Oscar nominations was that Force Majeure (Sweden, 2014), Sweden’s official entry for the foreign language film category and a Cannes film festival winner, did not place among the five nominated films. Director Ruben Östlund gives us a family on vacation and what appears to be the inciting event […]

Timo Vuorensola directs this German farce about space Nazis.

‘Iron Sky’ – Steampunk Nazis on Amazon Prime

Iron Sky (Germany, 2012) is an inspired concept—Hitler escaped Germany with a cadre of Nazi loyalists and established a colony on the dark side of the moon—executed with total conviction, at least in the details. This isolated outpost lives in a steampunk world forged from the legacy of Krupp machineworks, all giant gears and pistons, […]